Category Archives: Nightlife
Bars, pubs, nightclubs, live music
You don’t have to be Scottish to celebrate Burns’ Night, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. January 25 is an annual festivity to mark the birthday of Scottish poet Robert ‘Robbie’ Burns, who died in 1796. Traditionally, a meal of soup, haggis, tatties, neeps and lots of whisky is served to celebrate his life and poetry. With a host of Scots living in the capital, there are tons of Burns’ Night celebrations on around town.
- Burns’ Dinner and Music @ Boisdale (22 – 27 January)
Scottish restaurant chain Boisdale will be hosting a series of Burns evenings, featuring special three or four-course meals, with live music in some venues (each branch’s menu choice and price differs). Menus from £35.
– Boisdale – Four branches in Canary Wharf, Belgravia, Bishopsgate and Mayfair. For more information, visit the Boisdale website.
- Burns events @ Barworks (various venues) (22 – 27 January)
Barworks will be running special Burns events at a selection of their bars and restaurants across the capital. Haggis and Neeps & Tatties will be on offer, as well as a dram of R&B Distillery’s Raasay While We Wait. Meanwhile, Harrild & Sons in Farringdon will be hosting a three-course traditional supper on actual Burns’ Night, coupled with Scottish cocktails which includes the Grain & Ginger a of R&B Distillers’ Borders Single Grain Scotch Whisky with fiery Ginger Ale. From 7.30pm. Dinner: £45 pp including whiskies.
– Venues taking part included the Slaughtered Lamb, Exmouth Arms, Well & Bucket, Harrild & Sons and Singer Tavern. For more information, visit the Barworks website.
- Week Of Burns @ Mac & Wild (22 – 28 January)
Scottish eaterie Mac & Wild will be celebrating with a whole week of Burns inspired menu and events. Including Whisky and Beer Pairing, Haggis Making Masterclass, Whisky Tour Tasting Experience, Whisky and Chocolate Pairing Masterclass and traditional Burns’ Night menu. Throughout the week, customers can order Mac & Wild Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Burgers and Rabbie’s Drams whisky flights.
– Mac & Wild Fitzrovia: 65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PS (Nearest station: Oxford Circus) or Mac & Wild City: 9A Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YN (Nearest station: Liverpool Street). For booking and more information, visit the Mac & Wild website.
- Whisky 101 @ The Gallery (25 January)
The Gallery bar has created a special Robbie Burns drinks menu featuring their favourite whiskies and beers, including Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve and beer and whisky pairings including Chivas 12 with 6° North Four Saisons. Open 12pm-12.30am. Free entry.
Vault Festival 2018: Comedy, theatre and immersive experiences as London’s biggest arts festival returns
Returning to the tunnels underneath Waterloo this winter is one of the country’s biggest arts festivals. Now its in sixth year, the Vault Festival features over 300 shows over eight weeks. Expect a jam-packed schedule of comedy, film, circus, musicals, theatre, immersive experiences and late-night parties. As well taking over the atmospheric and historic tunnels, the festival is also expanding to satellite venues such as Waterloo East Theatre and Network Theatre. Expect to see homegrown and international talent, with a spotlight on names to watch at the Vault New Writers Award.
One of this year’s big shows is Neverland, an immersive musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale. Guests will come face-to-face with glittering pirates, mermaids, food fights, absinthe bars and live music from a band of lost boys. If immersive experiences floats your boat, there is also Caravan, a journey through hip-hop dance, or Lamplighters, an improvised spy story in the style of John Le Carre.
If you want to be amazed, there’s plenty of mind-blowing circus acts, including the Chivaree Circus’ award-winning re-imagining of the Persephone myth, Becoming Shades. Explore hypnotism with David Aula and Simon Evans in their show The Vanishing Mankind, or be wowed by the brilliant Madhi The Magician, who was born without hands or feet. There will also be a busy comedy schedule, with Joe Lycett, Bridget Christie, Richard Gadd, Phil Wang and Adam Riches, Mat Ewins, Graham Dickson and Joe Sutherland aiming to tickle your funny bone.
The Vault Festival promises to showcase some of the best female and BAME talent, with over 52 per cent of shows written or directed by women. Fringe First winner Katie Bonna explores gender conditioning in Paper Scissors Stone, while Edinburgh hit Glitter Punch deals with student/teacher relationship boundaries. Nicole Acquah examines racism in the UK in her powerful piece For a Black Girl, while round-table discussions on gender equality will also be providing food for thought.
Among the late-night parties at the weekends, includes Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Ball, St Patrick’s Day, the South London Soul Train and the opening and closing bashes. As well as all the entertainment, there will be plenty of options to keep you fed and watered with intimate themed bars and street food stalls.
- The Vault Festival runs from 24 January – 18 March 2018 and takes place at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN; Network Theatre, 246a Lower Road, SE1 8SJ and Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, SE1 8TN. Nearest stations: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For more information and tickets, visit the Vault Festival website.
To find out what else is on in January, click here.
When it comes to nightlife, the Junction and High Street parts of Clapham are well represented with a huge choice. However, the Clapham South part of town has been somewhat neglected… until recently. Last summer, the team behind successful Brick & Liquor in Tooting opened a sister bar on Balham Hill. A friend and I went along to check it out just before Christmas for a festive cocktail session.
The bar is styled like a Brooklyn loft, with exposed brick, natural wood and industrial furniture. Brick & Liquor is billed as a neighbourhood bar, giving a more friendly and local vibe than other cocktail bars, which can be guilty of focusing too much on the drinks and not enough on the customers. However, Brick & Liquor certainly delivers on the hospitality, the staff were friendly, approachable and certainly know their stuff when it comes to mixology.
The drinks menu features classic cocktails with a twist, alongside a selection of wines and bubbly. We started off-menu with their festive cocktail – a Marshmallow Martini (Absolut Vodka, Café Cartron, Vanilla Carton, milk and cream, finished with toasted s’mores and a melted hazelnut chocolate garnish). The marshmallow proved messy, but satisfactorily delicious and gooey. The cocktail itself was like drinking a dessert, with the chocolate and hazelnut garnish giving a Ferrero Rocher-esque flavour.
After our festive first round, we returned to the main cocktail menu, with my friend opting for one of their most popular concoctions – the Salted Caramel Espresso Martini (Absolut vodka, espresso, cafe liquor, vanilla, salted caramel and a hint of orange). My pal is a regular connoisseur of Espresso Martinis and it certainly met her high standards as she loved it. Meanwhile, I opted for a Californication (Prosecco and homemade strawberry and mint purée), a refreshing and light cocktail which was very easy to drink.
Overall, we were impressed. Brick & Liquor is a great addition to the area, which was crying out for a good drinking destination. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and the cocktails were brilliant, they were certainly a step up from what you would expect from a local cocktail bar. Although we didn’t eat on this occasion, there is a sharing plates food menu, featuring dishes such as arancini, ribs, lamb skewers and sweet potato fries, or a brunch menu on weekends, so I will have to return to check it out.
- Brick & Liquor, 47 Balham Hill, Clapham, SW12 9DR. Nearest station: Clapham South. Open Mon-Thur 5pm-11pm, Fri 3pm-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-11pm. For more information, visit the Brick & Liquor website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
What a year 2017 has been – Trump shenanigans, the on-going Brexit negotiations, a wave of harassment allegations in Hollywood, the horror of Grenfell Tower and more. There are many of us who are looking forward to closing the door on this year and greeting 2018 with open arms. Fortunately, there’s a host of celebrations to help you welcome in the new year from clubbing, to meals and fancy dress or fireworks, depending on your taste and budget. With all the listings below, I would highly recommend booking in advance to take advantage of some early bird prices and to avoid disappointment as many will sell out. Many events won’t be taking walk-ups. Whatever you do, have a good one!
Don’t forget, TFL will be providing free public transport from 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve until 4.30am on New Year’s Day.
- New Year’s Eve firework display over the River Thames
Thousands expected to take to the north and south of the River to watch the fireworks display near the London Eye. Since 2014, City Hall has introduced a fee to cover costs, this year’s being £10. Tickets went on sale in November. There will be a lot of congestion or potential closures of some tube stations around the Embankments so check with TFL before you travel. For more information of where you can and can’t access without a ticket, visit the London.gov.uk website.
- Vintage New Year’s Eve Party @ Royal Festival Hal
Travel back in time with a glamorous extravaganza of live bands and DJs spread across six pop-up vintage nightclubs from the 1920s to the 1990s, with dining, bars, beauty parlours and photo studios also on site. Around midnight, some of the action will move to one of the balconies (weather permitting) for a great vista of the New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Thames. 7pm-2am. Tickets start from £99. Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit the Southbank Centre website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the evening.
- New Year’s Eve Stand Up Show – Comedy Store
See in the new year laughing your socks off with MC Mandy Knight, Felicity Ward, Jeff Innocent, Tom Lucy and The Noise Next Door. There are two shows – an early one if you’ve got plans for midnight or the later one, with a DJ spinning tracks for the after-party. Doors open at 5pm/8pm, two shows at 6pm and 9.30pm. Tickets £27-£65. The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, SW1Y 4EE. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Comedy Store website.
- Black Cat NYE and Black Cat Ball
London’s dark and daring cabaret show is offering two opportunities to see in the New Year in the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square. The cabaret show at 6.30pm for early starters or the Black Cat Ball from 9.30pm, features a cabaret show, promenade circus spectacle, live music, roving performers and extended DJ set. 6.30/9.30pm-2am. Tickets: 6.30pm cabaret show £24-£29, Black Cat Ball £55 (includes glass of bubbly). Spiegeltent, Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For tickets, visit Black Cat website.
- Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve @ Sky Garden
Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the top of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ in the bars and restaurants of the Sky Garden with views over London. Food, drink, entertainment and DJs. 6pm-2am. Tickets prices start from £95. Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London, EC3M 3BY. Nearest station: Fenchurch Street or Monument. For booking, visit the Sky Garden website. For Metro Girl’s review of the Sky Garden, click here.
- Life Of A Legend @ Playboy Club
The Playboy Club pays tribute to its late founder Hugh Hefner with a decadent bash. The club will be transformed into the Playboy Mansion, with games area, film zone, photo studio, live music, DJs, American canapés, complimentary midnight fizz and, of course, bunnies. 8pm-3am. Tickets: £49. Playboy Club, 14 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1ND. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Playboy Club website.
- Prohibition 1920s New Year’s Eve party
Welcome the new year, 1920s style at this prohibition-themed party from Bourne & Hollingsworth, featuring live music, gramophone DJs, gambling, dancers and cocktails. Dress code: 1920s. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £55. In a secret London location to be revealed two weeks before. For more information, visit the Prohibition Party website.
- New Year’s Eve Party @ The Shard
Watch the fireworks from the highest party in London, featuring welcome cocktail, DJs, complimentary champagne toast, goody bag and 360 degree view of the capital. 10pm-2am. Tickets: £199. View From The Shard, Floor 72, Joiner Street, London Bridge, SE1 9QU. Nearest station: London Bridge. For booking, visit View From The Shard.
- Vintage New Year’s Knees Up @ Cahoots
Vintage lovers will enjoy this post-war shenangians in an old underground war shelter, featuring a Moet & Chandon and canape reception, Bottomless Belvedere cocktails, live entertainment by the Hotsie Totsies, New Year’s Eve toast and DJ set by The Roustabouts. Dress code: Post-war chic. 5pm-3.30am. Tickets: Bar £100, Table £150. Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For booking, visit the Cahoots website. For Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots, click here.
- New Year’s Eve @ Flight Club
Dancing, drinking and darts at the Bloomsbury branch of Flight Club. Featuring DJs playing party hits, 90 minutes social darts session, fizz on arrival and more. 7pm-2am. Tickets from £15. Flight Club, New Oxford Street, Bloomsbury, WC1A 1BS. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. For tickets, visit DesignMyNight.
- New Year’s Eve @ Devonshire Club
The City’s private members club is opening its doors for the New Year. Start your night with welcome drinks and canapes, before a decadent three or five-course dinner in the brasserie. Live entertainment from The Night Lights and DJs until the early hours. From 6.30pm until late. Tickets range from £50 (members)/£75 (non-members) to £255 depending on package. Devonshire Club, 5 Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YD. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Devonshire Club website. Read the rest of this entry
Fancy something a bit different than a house party or your local pub for New Year’s Eve? How about celebrating the dawn of a new year in a vintage nightclub and enjoying stunning views of the capital and its fireworks?
Returning to the Southbank Centre this month is A Vintage New Year’s Eve Party, an extravaganza of dancing, drinking, dining and more from HemingwayDesign. Curators Wayne, Gerardine and Jack Hemingway will transform five floors of the Royal Festival Hall into vintage nightclubs, dining rooms, a vintage hair and beauty salon and photo studios. At midnight, guests will have the opportunity to watch the capital’s iconic fireworks over the Thames from the riverside terrace (weather permitting).
Highlights of this year’s party include:
- The Torch Club
Enjoy the sounds of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s with live big band music from Alex Meedham and his 18 piece orchestra. Meanwhile, DJ Daddy Rich will be spinning original vinyl and dance, while vintage dance tutors Mark & Hoc will be showing guests the moves from yesteryear.
- Bar Bonkers
Experience pure joy as you immerse yourself in the world of ’80s and ’90s, with the best pop, rock and dance anthems, musical bingo and karaoke. Cheer along to the sounds mixed by disco dancing DJ Anna Greenwood, Jess Indeedy, DJ Helix, while their dancing grannies deliver a special edition of Indeedy Musical Bingo.
- The TIKI Bar
Sip colourful cocktails while gazing over stunning views of the River Thames in a very tropical pop-up. Listen to the sounds of 1950s exotica Martin Green and DJ Martin Karminsky while revellers show off their samba and mambo skills, as hula girls do the limbo.
- The Studio
Explore the history of disco as The Studio revisits some of the greatest club nights from the mid ’70s to the early ’80s. Partiers will be treated to the sounds of funk and disco, to electro and Northern Soul.
Throughout the evening, top Jive teacher Andrew Hall will help guests learn the Jive basics, while DJ Mr Jinx will be hitting the decks and The Jive Romeros will be mixing classic American and early British rock ‘n’ roll in Let It Rock. After midnight, The Clore Ballroom will become a cabaret club with live performances and vintage dancing and music.
In addition to the wealth of entertainment, there are also some dining packages available to add on to your ticket. Guests can feast on a three-course meal and have the use of a reserved table by the main ballroom floor for the whole night and access to a dedicated bar. Or if you want something lighter, there is also a buffet dining option.
- A Vintage New Year’s Eve Party takes place on 31 December 2017 from 7pm until late. At Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tickets: Party £99 (second release), £119 (final release), Add buffet for £35, Add dining, reserved table all night and access to dedicated bar for £85. For more information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website or phone 020 3879 9555.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
For a guide to London’s other New Year’s Eve events, click here.
As we approach Christmas, our social lives are busier than ever as we meet up with friends, family and work colleagues to celebrate the end of another year. While mulled wine can easily be found in many pubs and bars, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. With some of the world’s best cocktail bars in the capital, it’s no wonder that London’s mixologists have created some special festive concoctions for the Christmas period.
Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the capital’s best festive cocktails this 2017 season.
South Bank bar and restaurant Skylon have looked to the night sky for inspiration with their festive cocktail menu. Each drink is based on the eight planets of the Solar System. Mars (Campari, Ciroc infused hibiscus, Martini Rosso), Jupiter (Tanqueray 10, Staibano creamy limoncello, mulled wine reduction), Mercury (Ciroc infused thyme, Masticha, Lemongrass, Sherbet Prosecco), Uranus (Ciroc, passion fruit and chilly syrup), Venus (Ciroc, truffle oil, cacao blanco, Prosecco), Saturn (Zacapa 23 infused caramel, Liquor 43, angostura bitter), Neptune (Ciroc, Blue Caracao infused pineapple, lemon grass sugar syrup) and Earth (J.W Blue label, Hennessey fine cognac, red and dry vermouth, angostura bitter). Drinks range from £12.50-£14.50. On sale until 31 January 2018.
Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo.
- The Lobby Bar @ One Aldwych
Enjoy a touch of luxury at the lavish Lobby Bar at the One Aldwych Hotel. They’ve teamed up with Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne to create five limited-edition drinks. Christmas Club – inspired by Home Alone. (Home-made orange liqueur, raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Golden Snitch – inspired by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Havana 7 rum, Antica Formula, Lapponia blueberry liqueur, blueberry cheesecake flavour, sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Carol Fizz – inspired by A Christmas Carol (Plymouth gin, rhubarb liqueur, framboise liqueur, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice, gold leaf, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Nutcracker (Beluga Russian vodka, fig liqueur, green apple purée, drops of cardamom bitters, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut) and Royal Santa – inspired by Miracle on 34th Street (Home-made hibiscus liqueur, fresh pomegranate juice, cinnamon foam, topped with Perrier-Jouët Brut).
One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, WC2B 4BZ. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple.
- Charlotte’s W5
Cosy up in Charlotte’s Winter Terrace from Sipsmith, featuring blankets, fairy lights, hot cocktails and roasted chestnuts. Winter Sloe Gin (Sipsmith Sloe Gin, cinnamon, star anise and apple), Winter Negroni Sipsmith (London Dry Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and rooibos tea) and the Hot Espresso Martini (Sipsmith Sipping Vodka, Electric coffee and vanilla cream).
South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop review: Be naughty AND nice at south London’s festive playground
When it comes to a festive pop-up, the thought of standing outside can dampen even the most Christmassy of spirits. While rooftop venues are all the rage right now, our unpredictable London weather can make them more miss than hit at this time of year. However, summer destination Brixton Rooftop has had a winter makeover, bringing all the fun undercover in a cosy, heated environment. Taking over the rooftop this season is the South Pole Saloon, providing food, booze and entertainment.
I went along to the launch last week and was initially struck by how big it was, and also how cosy and warm it is. The venue has been transformed into a winter wonderland, with fir trees, twinkling lights and tinsel. Upon arrival, you are greeted by rows of picnic seating with the main bar and small stage behind. To the right, was the street food market, private candy caner cabins, themed VIP rooms and the nightclub in the saloon bar. Adding to the festive spirit were gangs of candy caner girls and naughty elves, providing plenty of material for some Christmas Instagram poses.
The three on-site bars offer a wide range of premium draft and bottled beers, typical spirits and the winter warmer cocktail menu. Among the original creations on offer were The Snow Globe (Spiced Bacardi Rum, Ginger Beer, Angostura, Coconut Syrup, topped with Cocoa Powder) and Santa’s Tart (Bacardi 8YO, Cherry Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup and Lime Juice). We were in the mood for mixing it up so tried the delicious Snow Globe, before moving on to Prosecco. Pretty much whatever your tipple is, you’ll be easily catered for.
With all the booze flowing, there’s plenty of opportunities to line your stomachs at the street food market, featuring The Lambassadors, Fancy Funkin Chicken, Vudu Food and Mac To The Future serving up. My friend and I ordered the classic ‘DeLorean’ mac ‘n’ cheese with a side of spinach from Mac To The Future which was absolutely delicious. Fortunately there was plenty of seating around so we grabbed a table with our drinks and grub and were entertained by the brilliant live music on the bar stage. Late night revellers can head to the saloon nightclub for a host of DJs and club nights performing until 2am over the next month, with Cirque Du Soul, The Doctor’s Orders, Applebum, For The Love Of Garage among the hosts.
Overall, it’s a great winter venue that would make a perfect meeting place for Christmas drinks with pals. What’s great about South Pole Saloon is that there will always be something different. The food traders create special dishes every week to follow the weekly food theme, while supper clubs will also be visiting. Among the events taking place will be cheese nights, bottomless brunches, burlesque shows and shared Christmas party nights, which caters for work or friends’ parties. I’ll definitely be heading back for a festive knees-up.
- South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop. Open from 23 November 2017 – 1 January 2018. Opening Hours: Thur: 5pm-12am, Fri: 5pm-2am, Sat: 4pm-2am. South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop, Pope’s Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Rooftop website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
Snow bunnies living in London usually find themselves disappointed when it comes to the capital’s rare offering of the white stuff. However, if you’re looking for a bit of alpine-style fun but can’t be bothered getting an Easyjet flight to Tignes, there’s an alternative solution right here.
Following its successful launch last year, Vauxhall Winter Village is back in London for a six-week run over the festive period. Launching on 16 November, the seasonal pop-up offers après-ski style food, drink and entertainment. Expect twinkling lights, decorations, drinking and dining in an undercover, heated, cosy environment.
Located just moments from Vauxhall station, the pop-up alpine ski village features plenty to keep you amused, including the chance to get Instagramming in Retro Ski Wear at the Cable Car Photo Booth. You can host a Christmas social gathering for your friends by renting one of the bookable heated alpine cabin booths, themed after some of the world’s top ski resorts, such as St. Moritz, Klosters, Aspen, and Davos.
There’s plenty of foodie options to keep your hunger at bay at the street food stalls, including Jamakin Me Crazy Caribbean cuisine, Hola Guacamole Mexican treats, Country Kitchen’s British grub, City Burgers and Ye Olde Fish And Chips. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of opportunities to drink, with festive cocktails, mulled wine and your favourite tipples.
- Vauxhall Winter Village is open from 16 November – 22 December 2017 on Monday to Fridays only (and selected weekends) from 11.30am-10pm. Free entry. Vauxhall Winter Village, South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, SW8 1SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall Winter Village website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
Ever thought about curling? It’s likely you may have watched it on TV since the sport has been an official game at the Winter Olympics since 1998. However, when it comes to winter leisure activities we’ve actually done, it hasn’t reached the popularity of ice skating, skiing, snowboarding or sledding. However, that could be set to change with curling club Sliders pitching up at Queens this winter.
Following their successful run at Roof East in Stratford last year (and back again this winter), Sliders is going west at Queensway’s versatile leisure venue Queens. Known for its year-round indoor ice rink, Queens is also home to cocktail and burger haven MeatLiquor, a bowling alley and arcade following its recent £4million refurbishment.
I went along last week with a group of friends to try out the new curling experience. We started off in MeatLiquor first for cocktails and burgers. The restaurant is diner style, spacious with low ceilings featuring a mix of sofas, stools and chairs, with the options to order to your bowling lane. I opted for a Bristol Fizz cocktail (Grey Goose vodka shaken with pear, strawberry and lemon juice, topped with fizz), which was fruity, sweet and easy to drink. People with special dietary requirements (halal, gluten-free, etc) will be pleasantly surprised to see plenty of menu options. I ordered a really good halloumi burger, with a generous halloumi portion which was cooked perfectly so it wasn’t tough and chewy. I find many restaurants overcook halloumi so especially enjoyed the MeatLiquor one.
Following our meal we headed to the rink for a spot of curling. All four of our party were novices and admittedly hadn’t watched much of the sport on television. A portion of the rink has been transformed into curling lanes, with coaches on hand to explain the rules. As you would expect, it’s pretty cold so coats, hats and gloves wouldn’t go amiss. Unlike ice skating where you’re likely to keep warm through movement, there are periods during curling where you’ll be standing still on the ice, so make sure you’re wrapped up. Before entering the lanes, we were given grips to help transform our shoes into ice-suitable footwear.
Curling is a game which requires balance, strength and mental dexterity. I like to think (hopefully!) I have an adequate amount of all three, but needless to say, I wasn’t too good at curling. The game involves hurling a stone towards the target area. If you end up in the target, you can’t always be certain you’ll remain there during the round as you can get knocked out by a rival team or even your own teammate. My friends and I played against another team of four. Despite our team managing to win by 1 point, I was probably the weakest link and didn’t get any stone near the target. However, we all enjoyed the game and I would be keen to return in the hope of improving. By the end of our curling, we were pretty chilly so headed to the handily located ringside café, with hot drinks and heat lamps which were much appreciated.
While so many festive attractions in London are outside, Queens offers a range of fun activities inside. You could easily spend hours here with your friends drinking, eating and showing off your sporting prowess… or not so much. My group had a great evening and would be keen to try curling again… hopefully with better results. See you on the ice!
- Queens, 17 Queensway, W2 4PQ. Nearest station: Queensway or Bayswater. Tickets: From £12.50pp for teams of 4 or 8 (including curling, grips, drinks service and welcome drink). For more information and booking, visit the Queens website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in January 2018, click here.
Following its launch earlier this year, Skylight became a popular summer destination for rooftop drinking, food and games. Although many rooftop venues have closed for the winter, the Tobacco Quay destination has had a festive makeover. Launching last week, Skylight has been transformed for the winter season with the installation of an ice rink. Although smaller than other alfresco rinks, the Skylight one’s unique selling point is it offers fabulous views of the London skyline while you skate.
I went along to the launch last week having previously visited the venue in the summer and was impressed by how much it had changed. Despite anticipating it would be chilly and windy, I was pleasantly surprised. The top level features two bars – one enclosed in a heated tent and a pergola – heated too – with plenty of seating and blankets if you’re feeling cold. The lower-level is enclosed and include a fondue station, bar, lots of neon and alpine-esque furry seating and day beds. It’s a warm and cosy place which makes a great retreat after a whirl on the ice. There’s also an ice hockey slap shot outside if you’re looking to let off some steam.
The bars serve a wide range of beers, cider, spirits, winter cocktails and mulled wine. We tried the Apple Crumble, a rum and apple concoction that certainly gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Meanwhile, cheese fans will be in their element with the fondue station.
Overall, it’s a great, versatile destination for a wintry night out. The abundance of heating means you’re unlikely to be cold for long, which would usually be my main aversion to outdoor winter venues. There was plenty to keep us occupied and it was a nice change to have a great view while ice-skating. Instagrammers will find there’s plenty of material to pose against with Skylight’s neon and stunning vistas.
- Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Free entry to Skylight. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Open 2 November 2017 – 14 January 2018. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). For booking, visit the Skylight London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter, click here.